Anna Linetskaya is an emerging writer who, after years of academic work and legal practice, finally finds herself writing pieces she truly enjoys. She is currently working on her first novel while completing her MFA in Creative Writing at the City College of New York. When not working on her book, Anna is sure to be found reading books of others. She is unapologetic about her reading locations and is particularly proud of her reading-while-walking skill.
Below is Part 1 of 4 installments for Visitant
It was not the moment myLife glitched, but the moment it was fixed that the dull and heavy pain found its way back in and settled at the bottom of Clarissa’s chest. Not to say that she hadn’t experienced painful emotions before: certainly, the images of starving refugees and flooded mountain villages she received as part of the ‘Well-rounded Person’ package made her throat contract and her breath shorten. But those were stored in a separate folder, and she hadn’t opened it in a while.
The ‘Well-rounded Person’ package was smart in this respect. The sophisticated algorithm behind it involved a pixel-by-pixel analysis of each potential image, or a ‘memory,’ and cross-referenced it with the comprehensive list of possible human emotions. The triggers were then carefully sorted and grouped, leaving almost no room for error. “99.9% accuracy,” the Company claimed, “well beyond the acceptable scientific cut-off point.”
Clarissa could testify to that, and did so on a regular basis. She was an active member of the consumer tribe, which evolved around the Company’s marketing-participation platform. Almost daily she expressed her thanks and gratitude amongst millions of other satisfied customers. Her life experiences, which now came not only in the form of visuals but also as a sensory stimulation, had never been better. Her Golden Retriever, Rita, never looked so happy and well-groomed as she did on the pictures Clarissa received in her ‘Pets’ folder. And all the Christmas cheer around the town Clarissa got to experience without leaving her apartment! It truly brought her joy and helped rekindle her love for the holidays.
Clarissa was aware that behind each ‘memory’ she received on her myLife device, there was another human that ‘harvested’ the imagery and performed all the tasks needed to achieve the desired emotional quality of the experience. She was no fool: she understood that her dog Rita did not walk itself. There were numerous dog-walkers who performed the chore, after which they sent their feedback via the Company’s app so that Clarissa could enjoy the good—‘positive’—aspects of it. But Clarissa never met those people, nor did she try. It was just like laundry: you give away your clothes dirty, you receive them clean and folded. No need to be concerned with washing. Or with the washers, for that matter.
Of course, myLife’s ‘Well-rounded Person’ package went much further than clothes and dog-walking. The procurement of pretty much every experience had become possible as the development of the Company’s innovative algorithm progressed. The ‘virtual reality’ feature was now so advanced, that Clarissa could travel around the world without the need to stand up from her couch. But the newly introduced ‘Human Touch’ feature surpassed that and was by far her favorite.
“I’ve never been so close to my friends,” Clarissa said in her last v-share to the tribe members. “Not only do I see them daily, now I can also hug and air-kiss them with mySense. It’s amazing. Also, love the new ‘feels’ badges. Look, here’s mine as I speak!”
Very little of Clarissa’s happiness remained the next morning, when the system glitched for the first time in the history of myLife.
► Part 2